Virtual Skinny: Open Me!

10.12.2016

Good to Know: Open floor plans are the worst! Not even programmers like it. Hey companies! Are you paying attention? 

THE SKINNY


When Big Brother Is Watching…

Chicago-based startup Geofeedia has been keeping tabs on people via their social media posts and then sharing that info with U.S. law enforcement.  

When You’re like Wait, Come Again?

Yesterday, the ACLU dropped a huge report uncovering how Geofeedia’s relationship with social networks helps law enforcement monitor and locate alleged criminals and protesters. Since users’ posts often come with personal info like their location, this isn’t  surveillanceexactly going over well. The ACLU says Geofeedia’s, helps police ‘disproportionately’ target black people, compromises free speech, and leads police directly to protest sites.
Just ask actress 
Shailene Woodley.

When You’re Waiting for Reactions …

After the ACLU let us in on Geofeedia’s secrets, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram immediately cut off the company’s access to their data. Geofeedia CEO Phil Harris says the company’s all for ‘personal privacy [and] transparency.’ #SideEye He needs more people because we don’t believe him. Meanwhile, ACLU says good for social platforms in cutting of Geofeedia’s access. But now, they need these companies to put public policies in place to prevent something like this from happening again.

WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON?


When You should be open to responding… 

Sometimes, you can’t go high when they go low. You’re probably well aware of the email leaks and hacks that’s causing quite the storm during this year’s U.S. presidential debate. The U.S. blames Russia, and it won’t be sitting idly. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said President Obama’s working on a ‘proportional’ response. The rest of us will be kept in the dark on what exactly that means, and it’s unclear whether we’ll ever find out. 

THE STREETS ARE TALKIN’


Holiday season’s coming up. Can’t afford a flight for your winter vay-cay? Say hello to black-owned company Airfordable. It’s lets folks pay for plane tickets in installments aka layaway. No more excuses … flight

Sony wants to turn its business around with its first major foray into virtual reality (VR) –  its US $399 Playstation VR headset.

Jungle Book director Jon Favreau wants in on the virtual reality game too. He’s working on a new movie with the studio Wevr called Gnomes and Goblins. It’ll be an interactive VR experience. Sign.Us.UP!

VR, it’s not just for games and entertainment. Chinese Internet company Alibaba’s financial arm is out with VR Pay – a new payment system. How does it work? Use VR goggles to shop VR malls. See something you like? Just nod your head, and it’s yours! No worries … Retailers will know it’s you buying up a storm and not a ‘rando’ by using account logins and passwords to verify. VR Pay is available commercial use by the end of year.   

Rumor has it that Amazon’s looking to open up convenience stores in California to help support its possible drive-through grocery pick up locations. The company has yet to confirm or deny. But, what is confirmed? Amazon’s Alexa-powered music service aka Amazon Music Unlimited goes live today for US $4/month. #HappyListening 

Service robots to take care of persona and domestic tasks will be a thing at least for the next three years.

MAKING MOVES


Or not … Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg is staying put. She has no plans to join a potential Hillary Clinton Administration. #ForTheRecord

Virtual Skinny: Fri-yay!

4.29.2016

Good to Know: It’s Fri-yay! If you’re in a meeting, you’re likely killing time on your phone. Telenor, Swedish telecom company, just put out a new vid to show how disruptive your phone activities could be if your texts, emails, etc. came to life. Check it out here

THE SKINNY


When You’d Like Them To Make It Rain …

Uber drivers are trying to get paid. They’re asking the company to either add or at the very least test a “tip button” on the app. On account of the company not paying drivers wages and all.

When You Gotta Go And Make Things So Complicated …

Uber isn’t feeling the idea at all. Its resistance comes down to fairness. The company thinks it’d be unfair for some drivers to get more tips than others. And more, importantly, they think the change would encourage discrimination.

When You Assume Things … 

Uber says drivers could assume that under-served areas won’t tip well and could stay clear of those areas all together.  BTW, drivers are sick and tired of waiting for you. So, Uber’s willing to drop its 5-minute wait time to 2 minutes and charge you for it by the minute. Uber says “we’ve seen that two minutes is usually sufficient time for riders to determine whether they need a car.” #TimeIsMoney

WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON? 


When You Get the Head Nod …

The U.S. House of Representatives gave the thumbs up on amending the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA).  The updated version would require law enforcement to get search warrants before getting all up in your e-mails and other online docs. U.S. Senate’s got next.

QUICK POLL – RUN THOSE NUMBERS …


The Tech Sector is here for Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. He’s raked in US $4.6 million from the tech sector, compared to Hillary’s US $2.6 million. 

Screen Shot 2016-04-29 at 11.46.33 AM

THE STREETS ARE TALKIN’


Amazon is crushing it out in these streets. Its profits are on the up and up for the first quarter of the year. The company’s pushing streaming service Amazon Prime, and its cloud business is pulling in US $10 billion this year. And, it’s also been on a hiring rampage. The e-commerce company hired about 80K people alone last year.

Twitter is the app formerly known as a “social networking” platform. It’s now calling itself a “News” app.

We feel like Internet companies are telling us to pack our bags and get outta dodge.  Google’s getting into the travel biz with its new app called “Trips,” to help keep track of your trips and make recommendations.

Speaking of travel, Priceline’s CEO Darren Huston is stepping down. The company’s board uncovered Huston’s relationship with an employee.  Since he’s married, the board didn’t think an affair was a good look. He’s resigning with no stock options to show for it. It’s been a tough week for alleged and actual cheaters. #Lemonade, anyone?

Virtual Skinny: Run That Back …

4.15.2016

Good to Know:  Reminder, if you haven’t gotten your U.S. taxes done, you’ve got until Apr. 18th.tax, Run

THE SKINNY

When You Swear It’s Déjà Vu …

Now that the Apple v. U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) court battle has died down, Microsoft’s got next.

When You’re Like Hold Up! Run That Back …

The company wants to give you a heads up when the U.S. government is getting all up in your online biz. But, the government allegedly won’t let Microsoft put you on notice so the company’s fired shots with the lawsuit it filed earlier this week. 

When You Need The Details …

Microsoft’s argument comes down to the information you store in the “cloud.” For years, tech companies and privacy advocates have been calling out the U.S. government for using an old-school law (Electronic Communications Privacy Act aka ECPA) to gain access to people’s personal information stored in the cloud. They want the law changed.

When You’re Like, But How?

Well, look at it this way. If the government wanted access to information you’re keeping in your house or mailbox, it would need a search warrant under the 4th Amendment.  But, when it comes to your online stuff, less is required of the government to gain access.

When Things Are Backwards …

Even though it makes a ton of sense to change the law, not much has happened (sigh, politics).   The latest development is that the U.S. House Judiciary Committee approved its version of an amended bill to keep up with the times.  #SmallVictories

WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON?

Try Take Over The World …

Mark Zuckerberg is legit on ‘Pinky and the Brain’ status. This week, Facebook put on F8, its annual developer conference. Per usual, FB’s got a lot on its “to do” list.  The Zuck kicked things off by not missing a chance to throw shade at Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. Then, he kept the zingers coming (in a good way) by unveiling his company’s 10-year plan.  Basically, it comes down to chat bots, virtual reality, and sponsored messages (in case you were wondering why you may have gotten a FB message from Lyft).  Looks like FB Messenger is going to be kind of a big deal. We’re talking potentially being able to use Messenger to interact directly with businesses to meet our needs (i.e., pizza).

Baby Steps …

While Facebook’s on that world domination tip, Google’s taking a local approach. According to reports, Google – now known as Alphabet – is using one of its subsidiaries called Sidewalk Labs to build out a “digital district.” The company’s allegedly got big name consultants and urbanists on its team to “create an area in the U.S. that serves as a testbed for new technologies from super fast Internet to autonomous cars.”

QUICK POLL – RUN THOSE NUMBERS …


In honor of Equal Pay Day this past Wednesday (Apr. 13), Facebook and Microsoft said they’re progressive because they basically pay men and women equally for the same job (for every $1 a man makes, a woman makes 99.8 cents).  Not quite equal pay, and the gender pay gap is still a major problem.

THE STREETS ARE TALKIN’

Twitter has its work cut out for it.  It’s been on a take-down rampage of tweets and accounts related to terrorism. But, a good thing has turned into a never ending battle. As soon as Twitter takes a tweet or account down, similar ones pop right back up. Enemy #1 is Abu al-Walid. He’s now on his 464th Twitter account. Oy …

While we’re on Twitter, can we talk about the Jack Dorsey- Azealia Banks connection? Let’s get into it. In 2015, Banks sent out tweets to promote Square Cash, the Venmo-like feature of Dorsey’s other company Square. Banks said she only did it because Dorsey promised to promote her mixed tape in return. He didn’t. She claims that he instead sent her his hair samples to “make him an amulet for protection.” Ok so, two things: (1) What TF is really going on? And (2) Watch your back, Jack. Yikes!

“Please silence your phones.” We’ve all heard that gentle reminder to not be that annoying person on their phones in the middle of a movie. Turns out AMC Theaters is admitting defeat. The CEO gets that millennials can’t part with their phones for too long so they want to make it acceptable for people to text and watch at their theaters. #ThingsThatMakeYouGoHmmm …

Amazon’s trying to get knee-deep in the fashion world so it’s looking to buy up startups like Everlane, Le Tote, Rent The Runway, ThirdLove and PreeLine.

Old things are becoming new again.  While the 90s are coming back with a vengeance, so are vinyl records. Startup ReplyYes wants to help you get your hands on the right vinyl records with its daily text recommendations.

Drone racing. Coming to ESPN in August 2016.